Saturday evening and the blazing sunlight streams through the green canopy, forming jagged shadows on the jogging track. It was good to be back in the familiar, now greener somewhat, surroundings of the park at Taman Tun, with the weekend-afternoon families by the grassy-banked brook, and runners plying the paved track. I had not visited the park in a while; the lure of running on the open road had, for some time, offered new sights and challenges not found in the confines of a jogging track. The park had been relegated to ‘just a place for a short run’. What prompted my ‘return’ to the park?
If you have been following the local news, there have been all too many reports recently of people being suspiciously approached, robbed, hurt or worse, while being on open roads that have been popular spots for runners, in bright daylight even. After staying away from a few weekend road-runs as an aftermath of crimewatch news overkill, I started to wonder if I was getting a little paranoid.
I was assured that my fear is grounded; other friends, too, say that they try not to run on open roads these days unless a male friend was running along at similar pace. Such things are easier said that coordinated, however. While I have never run alone on open roads, groups tend to spread out, and while faster runners would conscientiously trot backward to catch up with runners at the back of the pack, there are bound to be inevitable spots where you’re momentarily on your own. I had very limited options as far as run venues and timings are concerned. So – as the frustrated Malaysian would say to irresolvable quandaries – how lah like that?
I didn’t have much time left to ponder, with June 30th stealthily approaching (read: Half Marathon) and the number of miles clocked looking a little too low for comfort. I have, in the dark of one sleepless night after waking to pat the baby back to sleep, thought to myself, I could always pull out / move the goal 6 months or more down the road / I’d be entitled to do this / was I nuts, as mom of a baby below a year old to challenge myself with a maiden Half Marathon? Yes, of course I was ‘entitled’ to do all that, but I knew at the back of my mind that I will never live it down if I DNS’ed (Did Not Start) a race I committed myself to, not at least without having tried my utmost to train for it.
You know what? Let’s go back to the park, I thought.
The park was where I started running 2 years ago and discovered the joy of leisurely sailing along the tree-lined asphalt and jogging path alongside like-minded people. The park that was in many ways a gem within the suburban bustle, and an attraction to picnicking families and serious athletes alike.
I had forgotten about the good ol’ park.
It may be difficult to feel safe running on open roads for now, I thought, BUT I need to do this, and I can run in the relative safety of a park with a weekend crowd. It may not be ideal, but I can run endless rounds and not be bored out of my wits. I used to do it, albeit to train for shorter distances. I used to do it with the aid of my trusty iPod and headphones, and I still, of course, have the iPod and headphones.
So, to the park I went, with my headphones and a half-charged iPod. For me, music has a huge influence in many aspects of life, and I have been spurred on by beats and lyrics of playlist items, some better than others (U2’s Beautiful Day, Shannon Noll’s Shine and Coldplay’s Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall have been recent favourites). Some have been unexpected (who would have guessed that Love Will Lead The Way (Spice Girls) would distract me from the aches of tired knees on my way to finish line during KM #10 of the PJ Half Marathon 10K in 2011, one of my first few 10K’s?) Most other times, almost anything by DJ Tiesto works.
The Tracks of the Day at the park turned out to be a cocktail of what I believe is referred to as dance-pop electro-house – Enrique Iglesias’ Finally Found You; and the endorphins were maintained on a high when that was followed by Pit Bull/Christina Aguilera on Feel This Moment (yes, I gotta admit it has to do with the infectious take on the chorus from A-Ha’s Take On Me). Yes, of all the classic running-playlist songs there are out there, you’d probably think it hilarious for me to attribute the renewal of my resolve to keep on running this season to two current Top-of-the-Pops hits. But there you have it! My run ended up a 5K fartlek, with my fartlek goalposts being “the end of this song” / “after the second chorus” / “let’s extend this by repeating the song!”.
Finished it all sub-40 minutes, a time I had not done in a long time. It was a good Saturday.